Letters to the Church Magazine: November 2016

Dear Sir

I do not understand why we have so few young people attending church in Woodby nowadays.

We had decided to bring the worship up to date. We have a “music group” consisting of two women playing tambourine and a male accordionist. We regularly play only music that was written in the 1970s.

Why are the young people still not coming to church?

Yours etc

Anna Kee, Chafing Lane, Woodby, UK


Dear Sir

The rise of chutney stalls at the Christmas Fayre has, of late, been something to behold. I blame the ready availability, in these amoral days, of tomato plants and pickling vinegar. Can I propose a maximum of twenty jars of chutney per stall? Any more than that and the Major will have another of his “binges”.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

I dropped into last week’s jumble sale. I had no idea what jumbles are – some sort of relative of the Jumblies in the Edward Lear poem, I presumed. And I wondered whetther they had the green heads and blue hands of their cousins.

Instead when I got there all I saw was old women selling tatty jumpers and other such brocante. There was a sieve for sale, but no sign of any nautical activity. I was most disappointed.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

Surely innovations in the Church have gone too far. In which Synod of the Church was it decided that breastfeeding infants was acceptable?

The young lady concerned had the offending infant under a blanket throughout the entire operation, it is true. But it was still clearly happening. Put me right off the service. I yearn for the good old days before breastfeeding was invented.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Every Saturday, four or five people come to church to sweep the floor, polish the candles and other metal fittings, and generally get the place ready for Sunday. They are stalwarts of the church.

But what on earth do they think the clergy are for?

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

What a masterpiece of negotiation and democracy! I refer, of course, to the new monthly “family service” at Little Tremlett.

Because the Vicar wanted a modern worship group, and the organist did not want to reduce his input into the service, a compromise was required. I am glad to say we found one.

Now, each First Sunday, we sing 7 modern choruses, plus 5 hymns. The service now lasts nearly two hours, and the only people who attend are musicians. But at least, through tolerance and love, we have modelled the kingdom!

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir
Ah, the mellow, nostalgic days of autumn! Walking back from church last week I smelt the aroma of the apples in the vicarage garden and it took me back to those times – long and merry ago, now – when I used to “scrump” from the old vicarage orchard in Father Tranwell’s time.

Of course these days, climbing over the vicarage wall is not as easy as it once was. So I called into the Hanged Man for some lubrication before attempting a recreation of my youthful exploits. After five hours, I felt sufficiently lubricated.

In the old days, “Buffy” and I would climb to the top of the trees to get the ripest apples. Of course, Fr Tranwell’s trees were old-fashioned standard trees, twenty or thirty feet high. These modern “bush” trees are not so high. Nor, it seems, so sturdy. When I woke, I realised I was in the midst of five or six flattened apple trees, sitting in the dusk in the vicarage garden.

The other game “Buffy” and I would play – when the vicar was out! – was to throw apples over the vicarage roof for the other to catch. Sadly Buffy is no longer with us after that incident with the Swedish navy and the paddling pool. So it was down to me to recreate the  good old days by heaving apples over the vicar’s roof.

By all accounts it was a Bramley that knocked Revd Nathan out as he left the church for Evensong. whereas the people getting off the Banbury bus were taken out by the volley of Ashmead’s Kernels.

I would like to apologise to the vicar, the evening congregation, and indeed  the entire village.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

What’s black and white and goes up and down?

The vicar with his foot caught in a bell rope!

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

It’s hard to believe that there’s nobody out there. It’s hard to believe that I’m all alone
At least I have her love, the city, she loves me. Lonely as I am, together we cry.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

I am sorry to announce the disbanding of the Interfaith Group.

There’s only Mr Patel at the shop who’s a member of a non-Christian congregation. And he says he doesn’t really believe in any of it. I did tell him neither do we; but he didn’t care.

I am now starting a new Buddhism Group in the village hall. If this catches on, in a couple of years it might be worth starting the Inter Faith group again.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

The news story about Kumbuka the Gorilla gripped the nation last month. A 29 stone gorilla on the loose in Camden – how could he possibly last more than ten minutes? I had visions of him resorting to pushing canabbis on the Regents Canal towpath.

I attribute his survival entirely to the intercession of his patron saint, the martyred Harambe the Gorilla. Surely more proof that the Vatican should act now to progress his canonisation.

Yours etc

Barbara E Ape, “Tiggywinkles”, Meadow Leys.

Letters to the Church Magazine: October 2016

Dear Sir

In retrospect, I over-reacted last Saturday when the Scouts were doing their charity fancy dress car-wash outside Spar.

When driving out of the car park of a shop in a small town, one does not expect to see a scoutmaster and somebody dressed as Iggle Piggle looming up and pointing at one’s windscreen. And I panicked.

In my defence, I only drove as far as Banbury before the scoutmaster fell off the bonnet. However “Iggle Piggle” trapped his arm in the windscreen wiper. It was only when his head fell off in Stow that I realised it was Revd Nathan.  I hope the vicar had a pleasant walk home from Bourton on the Water. I believe “Birdland” is quite nice. But after that shock, there was no way I would offer him a lift back.

Yours etc

Constanza Nearby, “Donebloggin'”, Woodby


Dear Sir

The vicar hung his jacket on a different hook in the vestry last week.

Surely this needed a faculty?

Yours etc

Chas “Charlie” Charkles, Hanged Man’s Close, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

There’s sex all over the place these days. On the TV, in the papers, in the Bible, on the Internet, in “Bare-bum Spinney” – all over. And yet the Church continues to conduct weddings. Surely this is just encouraging them.

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

Maybe I should not have attended the Pet Service. Mrs Dumpling, after all, has always advised me that one should never work with vicars or animals.

I was in a slightly mystical state, having eaten 4 jars of chilli jam that I won at the Harvest Auction of Produce the previous day. And in the event watching Mrs Bramley’s goldfish swimming in circles left me in a kind of trance. Halfway through “If I were a Butterfly” I became convinced I was, in fact, the relevant animal in each line.

I admit that, in a service attended by many small mammals, hopping around the church in the manner of a kangaroo was a mistake.

The joke I made to lighten the mood may not have helped. Asking Jerome whether he was from “HamsterJam” was tactless.

I have offered to buy Jerome a new hamster. But he just tells me “Hammy was special”.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett

 

Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for my typo in last month’s magazine where we were intending to advertise a “Mothers’ Union” meeting. The results of an unfortunate autocorrect, I expect.

In the event, it was a surprise and yet in an odd way quite touching to see all the onions that the mothers brought along to the church.

Quite brought a tear to my eye.

Yours etc

Revd Nathan, the Rectory, Gt Tremlett

 

Dear Sir

Late September and once again we had a Harvest Festival. Did we not do this last year? These trendy special events are ruining the Church I grew up in.

If this kind of thing continues, Luther will have won.

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

An early advert for our special event at the end of the month.

The coven will meet on the long barrow on Tremlett Tump at 10.30 as usual. Then process to Hangman’s Copse where we will dance naked. Weather permitting. In case of frost or rain we will use the Village Hall. The old arthritics don’t cope with the bad weather these days.

Yours etc

Mildred Flossett (Mothers’ Union Branch Secretary), Jasmine Road, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Some girls are bigger than others.

Some girls are bigger than others.

Some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

Time for another of my famous “vicar” jokes.

Q – What do you call a female vicar who’s accidentally fallen into an open grave at a funeral?

A – Anything you like like. She’s going to have other things on her mind.

Yours etc

Tom Chancellor, Primrose Path, Woodby


Dear Sir

As the autumn draws in, I felt moved to poetry.

“The Falling Leaves”

The conkers lying on the ground

So shiny, brown, and nearly round

The squirrels search them swiftly out

To hide them in some hole, no doubt

But then when winter’s time has come

The stupid beasts can’t even find one

So, tumbling from the homely tree

They die, exhausted, on the ley.

And, as the wind the branches weaves,

They’re buried ‘neath the falling leaves.

Death death death

death death death

death death death.

The falling leaves.

Death.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Letters to the Church Magazine – September

Dear Sir

I refer to the recent PCC meeting, in which it was revealed that £74.22 was spent on cleaning and refurbishment of choir robes this May.

I have personally always saved the church money by carrying out repairs and laundering my own robes. However after 38 years in the choir I feel I can no longer carry the financial burden. 

I therefore enclose an invoice for £92.89. It has been a hard month.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester Street

Dear Sir

I hear the Fresh Expressions group have suggested we might have a C!own Service.

Clowns in the Church? Don’t make me laugh.

Yours etc

Burlington O’Brien, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett 


Dear Sir

I have played the song back repeatedly. And done extensive research. And there is no doubt about it.

The sea creatures mentioned in the B52s’ “Rock Lobster” sound nothing like they do in the song.

What does the Archdeacon plan to do about this?

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

The Cholmondley-Cholmonley family have owned Cholmondeley Manor for three hundred years, ever since Sir Charlton “Chummy”  Cholmondley-Cholmonley won the old place in a game of cards from Sir Robin Lighteley-Mincing.

And yet I find I am not allowed to prevent the villagers from watching Channel Four. Truly Bin Laden has won.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

I noticed that, during the summer months, Reverend Joanna gave up wearing the chasuble due to the heat. As a result, in that rather well-cut cassock-alb, I think it is true to say her gracious movements lit up our ancient old building’s time-honoured liturgies.

My wife says please could she not do that again. 

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

At this start of the Methodist year, when so many Methodist ministers are moving to new locations, let us spare a thought for these closest of our relatives in the Church family.

I mean. Imagine being a Methodist. Dreadful.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

Some have objected to the suspension of the Sunday Club during the vacation. But I needed a break after the previous 44 weeks of unbroken teaching.

44 weeks. Every week knowing that, whatever craft activity I devise, Liam will eat it. Removing glue from Chardonnay’s hair every week. Aaron throwing glitter over Samanfa. Every week. For 44 weeks.

Sunday Club will restart on the second Sunday of September. I’m really looking forward to a new year of fun, games and activities!

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

A flutter of excitement last month as a pigeon found itself trapped in St Audrey’s. A charming little fellow. And such a to-do as the parishioners wondered how best to remove it! A net, luring it with corn? Just leaving the door open? We even made the local news!

Eventually I decided I should act for the community. I give no details. But people said they enjoyed that pie at the church bring n share picnic.

I’ll say no more.

Yours etc

The “Masked Avenger”


Dear Sir

As Harvest comes round, people often wonder what to do with the surfeit of pumpkins that are donated to the Festival. We give away some of our food offerings to the food bank, of course, but most poor people could not eat a whole one.

And many find pumpkin a bland food! But fear not – here is the Dumpling family recipe, passed down through many generations.

Ingredients: 1 large pumpkin; 400g strong white flour; 2 red onions; 4 potatoes; 1 red chilli; 1 bottle Madeira wine; 1pt chicken stock; salt and pepper to taste.

Step 1: Drink the Madeira

Step 2: Wonder what you did with the other ingredients.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I regret to announce that the autumn Bible Study course has been cancelled. It clashed with the Trim Valley Morris Men.

I don’t mean the two groups were scheduled for the same time. I mean they literally clashed. Blood all over last year’s Spring Harvest study notes. Terrible.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Already the nights draw in and we think of the ingathering of first fruits, roads choked with combine harvesters and the gentle bubbling of homemade wine..

“A Victorian Harvest in the Trim Valley”

The setting sun o’er Chapel Wood

Sets the fields glowing in golden haze

The villagers still barley mow

In these so-shortening autumn days.

The apples, green and red, hang sweet

And soft, before first frosty breath,

Are chestnuts, brown as the labourers’ arms

And bejewelled berries, black as death.

Death death death

Death death death death death

Death death death

Death death

Death.

Wishing you all a mellow and fruitful harvest tide.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Letters to the Church Magazine – August 2016

Dear Sir

The recent “Brexit” vote appears to have been swung by the number of people who voted in the belief that a “Leave” vote meant many people from other countries would have to leave. This attitude is deplorable. There are far more people we should be looking to remove. Specifically:

  • Liberals
  • People who wear chasubles
  • Liberals who wear chasubles
  • Giles Fraser
  • Organists
  • Nudists
  • Nudist organists
  • People who are still ripping off jokes from “Reggie Perrin” 40 years on
  • Atheists
  • Socialists
  • Nudist atheist socialist organists
  • People who read the New International Version of the Bible
  • Animal Liberationists
  • The quiz show “Pointless”, which accepts people even if they are in the groups above
  • People who can’t quite hit high F# but keep trying
  • Lesbians
  • Thespians
  • Pedestrians
  • Latvians.

Yours etc

Melissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Once again six months have passed and Revd Nathan has not made it into the news.

In these days when there are many famous, attractive priests on the telly I feel he is not trying hard enough. He should maybe rob a bank, become a pop star or develop a radical  theory that St Timothy was Welsh.

Yours etc

Gabrielle Fitch Thompson, the Old Market House, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I note from last month’s magazine that every inhabitant of Woodby Chapel End is now past the age of retirement. A remarkable tribute to the attractiveness of the village, its health-giving climate and the way our beautiful Trim Valley encourages active lives even in the 8th and 9th decades.

Of course the downside is that property prices are stupidly expensive now, and nobody else can afford to retire there! Like me.  That’s why I’m starting a course on “Extreme Eurythmics” in the chapel hall on Wednesdays at 8.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

The hymn sheet on Sunday said “Savior”, not “Saviour”. Clearly the vicar had downloaded the song from an American website. It could have been owned by Donald Trump.

I used to work for the “Socialist Worker” newspaper. This would never have been allowed.

Yours etc

Chas “Charlie” Charkles, Hanged Man’s Close, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

My oh my, you’re such a big boy
On a Saturday night.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

It has been seven months since Christmas and I regret that I have not managed to return to St Mary’s since that lovely Nativity Play.

Wherever I have been since that beautiful performance – on holiday, away on business or (typically) in bed – I have always intended to pop into a Sunday service. I am sure I will make it before next Christmas.

Yours etc

Jasmine Jones, “Chitterings”, Wheezy Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

That is a fantastic new  range of polish the church cleaners are using. After a hard day at the allotment, I have found there is nothing like having a quick “buffing up” with the brass cleaner. Quite sets me up for the evening.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I hear that the new version of the Church website has been cleverly programmed so that it can be viewed on a phone! What will our social medium, Doris, think of next. I tried to look at it on my phone but where will it appear? All I can see is some numbers. Do I need to look down the receiver?

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Is it just me that has noticed that, increasingly, there is nothing to do with the smaller decimal coins – 1p, 2p and 1/2p? Certainly I have been spending a lot of time moving it around on the sideboard without ever quite getting round to spending it. When one buys the weekly shop or, as it may be, a round at the Hanged Man, with a bagful of pennies people can get quite annoyed. And lots of small change can wear holes in one’s trousers.

Which is why last year I came up with the concept of the “Change Bucket” in the church porch. Over the last 12 months we have raised £5.33 in loose change from passers-by!

Of course, to prevent theft I had to have the bucket made out of stainless steel, fastened by a five-level padlock, and brazed to the railings – and had to get a faculty to do so. I therefore include an invoice for the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

After twelve months we have decided to stop the “Messy Church” at Woodby Chapel due to low attendances. People told us we were foolish to try, that it had never worked before and that it was against God’s law. But we are not disheartened. It is still my fervent belief that we have a mission to the young families of the village.

Yours etc

Chloe Joey, “El Nino Cottage”, Woodby Chapel End 


Dear Sir

Once again the vicar has been suggesting that we should put money into the collection plate – on the flimsy grounds that this will enable the church to pay the wages of priests. When will this naked socialism end? Why can the church not pay him out of its own money?

Yours etc

Mary England,  Carstairs House, Woodby

Letters to the Church Magazine – July 2016

Dear Sir

Candles are expensive. We use two candles on the altar, two around the altar, and two for the acolytes. That’s six candles lit every week. It soon adds up.

I have invented viable solar-powered candles by embedding LED lights into the tops of wax candles, and solar panels and batteries into the candlesticks. Their use would save an average of £14.22 per annum. Services would have to be shorter in the winter, but nobody would mind.

In the course of my experiments I have run up some expenses. I therefore include an invoice for £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester Street


Dear Sir

The middle of the summer and still we have not seen a nudist bishop, despite all the promises earlier in the year.

This is not what I pay my entrance fee for.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

My seventeen-greats grandfather built Woodby Chapel so he could have a church conveniently placed next to his house. He then knocked down all the copyholders’ cottages so he did not have to put up with the site and smell of the peasants, except on Sundays and at Christmas.

And yet, when I asked the vicar if we could hold our Sunday service on Mondays, when he is less busy, he said he was afraid not.

If one cannot get one’s own clergy to do what they are told, I no longer know what the Church of England stands for.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

So many people telling us how great it was to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday with a special church service.
A special united benefice-and-ecumenical church service. If it had not been that the people from all the other churches refused to turn up, St Mary’s could have been full.
On balance, I am glad we marked her Majesty’s 90th. But I hope we do not do it every year.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

In my 66th year as Church Warden, people often ask me how I manage to keep St Leodegarius so neat and tidy.

It’s simple. I have persuaded the local builders that I am a witch, and they carry out free maintenance as long as I do not put a curse on them.

Obviously, I am just using simple suggestion. And the week that Young Larry the bricklayer spent as a 6 foot tall Rhode Island Red chicken was a coincidence.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for the Children’s Church presentation of “Our Glorious Queen” at the 90th Birthday service.

In our rehearsals they had pretended to be corgies, they waved Union Jacks and sang “Happy Birthday Dear Ma’am.” I suspect they got their ideas from Mr Corbyn, the “trendy” teacher at Tremlett Primary. But calling for “class war” and a republic. and demanding that the “Hanoverian leeches cease feeding on the blood of the working class” was definitely not in the script the previous Sunday.

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I heard that the wardens at Woodby were having trouble with bats.

Bats can be seen as a nuisance – their droppings mean that all items of value have to be covered, and they make an awful mess on the church floor. But they are rare animals, and protected by law.

That is why I nipped in when the church was unlocked and shot the lot with an air gun. Figured that would save the vicar and church wardens a lot of trouble.

Ask no questions etc….

Yours etc

The “Masked Avenger”


Dear Sir

An apology and a plea, after last month’s celebration of  Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday.

I now know that by “Joint Service”, what was meant was a service with our ecumenical friends, and the other parishes in the benefice.

I realised my mistake when, handing out a few spliffs, people pointed out to me that the Health Act 2006 made the tobacco element illegal in church. Also, the Baptists complained, thinking it was incense. Although when I handed out the “turbo chocolate brownies”  instead, I did get an invitation to contribute to the next fete cake stall.

As a result of my mistake, and the subsequent raid by Her Majesty’s Constabulary (ironic considering whom we were celebrating) I am £100 worse off. Also I now have quite a lot of space in my greenhouse. So if anyone has a few tomato plants they can let me have, I will be grateful.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

In the light of the Referendum result I am sad to announce that our old friends the Club des Randonneurs  de St Cast will not be accepting our annual invitation to join the Trim Valley Trotters on the annual “Friendship Wamble”.

On the bright side, we didn’t really like them. It’ll be a relief to do the rounds without them this year.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

At this summer time, our thoughts turn to the seaside; the hills; foreign travel; encountering interesting people and new and exotic customs. In accordance with this, I have been inspired to write this short haiku, as a variant on my normal, more traditional poetic style.

“A partridge dreams of summer”

Death death death

Death death death death death

Death death death.

Wishing everybody a restful summer holiday.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Letters to the Church Magazine – June 2016

Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for my behaviour at the service with the Archdeacon.

I misheard the service name and thought it was the Swearing-at of Churchwardens. I’m afraid I let a whole year of frustration at the state of the memorials on the North Wall go to my head.

I was appropriately admonished after the service by Revd Joanna, from whom I learnt a few words I could have done with knowing beforehand.

Yours etc

Anna Kee, Chafing Lane, Woodby, UK


Dear Sir

Having attended the Youth Services over the last two months my fears have been allayed.

Thanks to the guiding hand of the Vicar, the “modern” songs included were Lord of the Dance and Shine Jesus shine, both played by Mavis on the harmonium. I believe we have subverted a dangerous movement just in time.

I am pleased to hear that another dangerously modern song, “Will You come and Follow Me”, has been put on the back burner. Mavis believes she will not be able to cope with it until after her hip replacement.

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I hear that the Vicar has banned the jumble stall from this month’s fete on the grounds that all the jumble has spent the last seventy years in the jumble cupboard in the church hall, only coming out for fetes where nobody buys it.

I am outraged. The jumble stall, selling the same mouldy clothes every summer, has been woven into the fabric of this parish. If we lose the jumble stall, we may as well let the tower fall and sell the nave off to the Scientologists.

This means we will have only the crockery stall, the coconut shy and the tombola. Truly a fete worse than death.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett


Dear Sir

I dropped into the Great Tremlett Bell Ringer’s meeting last week again. I am rather confused.

A load of people I have never seen in church, all wearing sweaters and ringing bells. Where do they go when the service starts? Do the wardens lock them in the bell tower until the next practice?

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

According to the vicar’s sermon last Sunday, we are supposed to be opening up the church to the “Gentiles”. I don’t know who the Gentiles are, but they sound dreadful – apparently they don’t know the Bible, worship sheep, and are violently opposed to God’s prophets.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather we kept the Gentiles out of Church completely, thank you very much. They’d probably make an awful mess.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

According to the diocesan training programme, there are certificates for lay worship leading, preaching, children’s work, evangelism, church administration and leading small groups in Bible study. I think these courses are an utter waste of time.

If the vicar didn’t learn all this in three years at theological college, why are we expecting him to go on all these courses now, when he should be ministering to people?

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

With the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Bill, I became concerned. The church is fill of incense. And what is incense if not something that stimulates the nervous system? I know it stimulates mine.

Therefore I had to take action before Cromwell’s agents appeared in the Trim Valley. I decided the best thing to do was to hide the incense in an Aubrey.

I would like to apologise to Aubrey. He has been very forgiving. And explained that what I really ought to do was put the incense in an Aumbry. Different word entirely.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

As the weather warms and we are into the season of open-air fund raising, can I be the first to make the joke about a fete worse than death.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

This is a close-knit community. Everybody knows everybody else, and there are many people whose families have been in the Trim Valley for hundreds of years.

So we have decided it was safest to close the Trim Valley Singles Group. At least until we get the Little Tremlett church minibus repaired, and can bus them to Banbury in search of new bloodlines.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

In these quiet days after Trinity, it would be ideal to introduce a new martyr’s commemoration. Remembering someone gentle, innocent and viciously murdered in cold blood.

I refer of course to Harambe the Gorilla. If the Pope will not bring forward his canonization, despite the outcry of millions of people across the world – who will surely remember this outrage for years to come, and not the normal Social Media 10 minutes – then at least we can rename St Mary’s as Saint Harambe’s? Or maybe St Simian the Zealot’s.

Yours etc

Barbara E Ape, “Tiggywinkles”, Meadow Leys.

Letters to the Church Magazine – May 2016

Dear Sir

The new Pope has been a revelation to me over the last few years. Modern, up-to-date, revolutionary and yet determinedly no different to the previous Popes in any way at all when it comes to theology and doctrine. What a masterpiece of communication that is.

However, I am slightly confused as the previous Pope appears still to be living in Francis’s back garden. Surely this is not normal? Was his regeneration stuck on this occasion? Or can we expect a “special” when the last seven Popes all appear to battle the Zygons?

Yours etc

Marais de Sandeman, The Old Brewhouse, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again it was a joy to support the vicar by “standing in” for many of the Trim Valley services during his post-Easter vacation. And the people of Woodby were so happy once again to have the Nestorian Rite restored!

I did miss out on Evensong at Woodby on the last Sunday of Revd Nathan’s holiday. A very strange event indeed. I was just about to head out for the service when I received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s wife, telling me that due to an imminent nuclear strike I should hide in the cellar with a bottle of Vimto and a good book.

Naturally I thought this an odd occurrence. But one cannot be too careful in these dangerous times. So I went down into the cellar for – as nearly as I could judge – the three days recommended to allow the radiation to go down.

Emerging on what I assumed was Wednesday, I realised it was actually still just 3am on Monday. The cellar is very dark, meaning I could not read the book, so time had clearly passed very slowly. I was relieved to discover, however, that the village was still intact.

Still, I am glad that the Reader, Doreen, was able to step in for me at the last moment – and conveniently had a sermon for the Sunday after Easter with her! I can only express my gratitude for the number of times Doreen has helped me out on a number of similar occasion!

Yours etc

Canon Vyvyan Westcliffe (Retd) (But still available for occasional offices), The Old Vicarage, Woodby


Dear Sir

I note the Guardian report of the church in Canada where the (female) pastor does not believe in God, has taken the Lord’s Prayer out of the service and thinks the Bible is a human construction.

Which is all fair enough. But she has also removed half the pews. Is this the faith that has been handed down to us? I doubt it very much. I do not understand how she could be allowed to remain in her job.

Yours etc

Ranulf Bling, Station Road, Great Tremlett



Dear Sir

I attended the Toddlers’ Group at Little Tremlett last week.

In retrospect, I had no real idea of what I was expecting. But it turned out the place was crawling – often literally – with small children. What is the point of that?

They are very poor singers, their theology is dreadful and there was no sermon at all. I am fairly sure Our Lord never founded a Toddlers’ Group.

Yours etc

Rt Hon Alicia Cholmondley-Cholmonley, Cholmondeley Manor, Woodby Chapel End.


Dear Sir

Why does the Vicar keep telling us that Easter is not over?

All the eggs are eaten. The hot cross buns are back on sale in Tesco. Of course Easter is over. Get over it.

Yours etc

Rob Runes, Church Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Once again we have been unfortunate enough to have “modern worship” foisted on us, in the Vicar’s constant attempt to be “trendy”.

Honestly, what he thought he was doing last week, introducing a radical hymn by Charles Wesley was beyond me. My family have worshipped in this parish for 1,000 years. And I do not see how this kind of innovation has been allowed to slip in, unnoticed.

Yours etc

Felicity Broadstairs, Tremlett Road, Woodby


Dear Sir

The Sunday after Easter is a lovely day. Without the kind of irrational behaviour that some members indulged in on Easter Sunday, from what I have heard. Although why anyone thought the Major would be any other way behaved after his twelve-hour Easter Egg-eating Vigil is beyond me! But Low Sunday is a day of calm and contemplation. The congregation is often smaller, but the service is no less reflective and thoughtful for that.

Especially when no children at all attend Sunday School. I had such a lovely nap, I did not even wake up to come back in to show the congregation what I had been doing.

Yours etc

Cassandra Chamois, Peanut Cottage, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I was fortunate to go into Tesco in Banbury the day they decided to clear their Easter seasonal merchandise.

Now there were many chocolate eggs marked down, but I will be honest. After Easter Day I do not really fancy any chocolate for a while. Whenever I get that kind of sugar rush, for some reason I always end up standing on the table-tomb and juggling.

But enough of what happened on Easter Day.  I realised that, at the knock-down prices they were offering liqueur-filled chocolates for, I had a way of obtaining alcohol at a lower rate even than on the British Legion’s annual booze cruise to Calais.

Accordingly I filled the Land Rover with boxes of liqueur chocolates, and retired to the shed at Rodney’s Rest with some empty pop bottles, a funnel, and a sharp knife.

I will be honest. My initial plan was to separate out each liqueur into its own bottle, based on the chocolate type. But, after I had drunk the first half pint of cherry brandy, I realised it would be more efficient simply to pour the contents of each chocolate into a communal bottle.

I have 4 litres of sludgy brown mixed liqueur left in the shed now. I may leave it till Christmas to mature or, rather, settle out.

But the stuff I actually drank last Saturday had, it is fair to say, quite an effect. Suddenly I thought the thousands of empty chocolate shells seemed quite a waste. For reasons I can now not quite remember, I decided that the best thing to do with them was to melt them all down and have a giant chocolate bath. Possibly I thought it might help with my complexion. It has not been good lately. I blame all the chocolate I have been eating.

Well, with the liqueurs and the warmth of the chocolate, I fell asleep. I awoke the next morning with the church bells ringing and realised I had better get a move on. Unfortunately, in my sleep-fuddled state, I assumed the feel of chocolate on my skin was that of my clothing.

I have since become aware that the arrival of a naked retired military officer, clad only in chocolate, gave quite a shock to the ladies in the congregation of St Jude’s.

I would have run straight back out when I realised. However, the chocolate, hitting the cold air of the church, started to solidify. I was unable to move.

I would like to praise Revd Nathan for the professional way he continued with the service, while I stood there like a particularly modernist art installation. And I would also like to thank Jeb who came round with a sack barrow, and wheeled me back to my house, where an hour stood by the radiator restored my movement.

I would be grateful if any members of the congregation could let me use their showers, however. It turns out that chocolate is incompatible with modern drainage systems. We have four teams of plumbers working shifts to restore our sanitation to its normal condition.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

This is not, I am aware, a Church-related issue. But, affecting everyone in the benefice as it does, I felt it was worthy of publishing.

There have been many discussions as to whether the European Union makes the people of the United Kingdom richer or poorer. But no other commentator has the financial experience I have developed over the past 2 years of saving money for Grilsby Church.

After a complex analysis, including the risk to interest rates, the difficulty of negotiating trade tariffs and the “rebate” negotiated by St Margaret Thatcher, I have calculated that the average Briton will be between £74.22 better off and £74.22 worse off.

In the course of this calculation I have of course consumed a considerable amount of consumables. I therefore include an invoice to Nigel Farage to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

In his sermon on Low Sunday the vicar totally failed to get to the heart of the Easter story. Maybe he prepared too quickly due to packing for his week off.

If the story of Doubting Thomas teaches us anything, surely it is that imperial oppression is always with us. The disciples were hiding because they feared that the powers of oppression – the Sanhedrin in association with the Romans – were clamping down on the Socialist manifesto published by Jesus, and to be followed by his disciples.

Surely we should understand now why they were so scared – when Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate could storm in at any minute, to demand they got out and worked – for a minimum wage – on a Sunday to enable them to earn enough to buy the shoddy subsidised goods of the Chinese, and pay enough tax to enable Pilate to top up his off shore bank account.

Yet did the vicar mention this? Not at all.

Yours etc

Jeremy Stairswell, Crow Lane, Grilsby on the Hill


Dear Sir

The temperature keeps falling
Soon there will be no lights
Just a red glow of glass coffins
Watched by someone through the night.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

It occurred to me, with the improving weather, that the archaeologists and neo-pagans would be back at the so-called “Holy Well” in the Rectory gardens. And so, on 1 April, I took to my watchtower, lest any heathenism or naked dancing should occur.

None has yet. But I shall not cease from my guard. If any such things happen I shall of course need evidence. Therefore I have my trusty Kodak with me at all times. If any nude dancing breaks out, I shall ensure I have pictures.

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I’m afraid to tell you that the Friendship Group is no longer meeting. They fell out.

Yours etc

Romilly Randers, Cave Road, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

Ah, how I miss some of the traditions of the old Trim Valley! Although the schoolchildren do their best, their maypole dancing does not compare to the days of my youth, when the young people from across the Valley would join together in a celebration that Sumer is, indeed, y-cumen in.

THE MAYPOLE

The cuckoo starts his summer song
And in the valley, all along
The bluebells grace the succulent sward
And dumbledores lumber abroad.

The maypole rises in the ley
And celebrates this fine May Day
The ribbons, coloured fine and bright
Suspended from that awful height

Whereon the village boys have tied
Sweet tokens of this sweet May tide.
And primrose, narcissi, apple blooth
Tell joyously of love and youth.

Yet the flowers which the pole have quilted
Have only hours until they’ve wilted.
Up in the air, with bright sunlight,
They’re soon just shrivelled, out of sight.

Young men and maids, with song and laughter
You’ll all follow shortly after.
So take a lesson from the flowers
You think you’ve years – it will seem like hours.

And birds that hop in gardens bright
And hedgehogs, scuttling through the night
And foxes, howling in the dell
Make the most of it, you’re doomed as well.

Death, death, death.
Death, death, death.
Death, death, death.
Death, death, death.

Wishing everyone a joyous Maytide.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill